Another helping from Tennessee Williams’ seemingly inexhaustible closet of mixed-up southern skeletons is exposed here with only occasional flashes of cinematic power.
The Fugitive Kind is not basically one of Williams’ better works and, as directed by Sidney Lumet, it sputters more often than it sizzles. The combination of Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani fails to generate the electricity hoped for. Joanne Woodward, looking like a battered fugitive from skid row, pops in and out of the story to provide a distasteful and often ludicrous extra dash of degeneracy.
The only fully rounded character is that of Lady Torrance portrayed by Magnani with a faded veneer of lustfulness. At least one can understand her frustration and loneliness, being married to a dying older man she doesn’t love, and her bitterness toward fellow townsfolk, her father having died trying to save his wine garden set afire by vigilantes because he sold liquor to Negroes.
Brando’s role as a disillusioned guitar-singer, who becomes involved, as hired hand and lover, with Lady in a small Mississippi town while trying to put aside the wild life he experienced in New Orleans hot spots, is less clearly defined. Brando is back to mumbling with marbles in his mouth too often.
Much of the picture was filmed on location in Milton, New York, and at the Gold Medal Studios in the Bronx. Boris Kaufman’s photography is good.